The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Vol. 1
The astonishing sessions that went light years beyond "free jazz" improvisation to create a music of deeply-felt, explosive and gentle gesture made from sound itself without reference to previous notions of melody or harmony. Recorded by Richard Alderson on April 20, 1965, this set of tunes finds Sun Ra breaking ground by using synthesizers and having the Arkestra musicians double on percussion.
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Pat Patrick: Baritone, Percussion (except “Other Worlds”)
John Gilmore: Tenor, Tympani (“Heliocentric”, “Of Heavenly Things”)
Marshall Allen: Picolo, Alto, Bells, Spiral Cymbal (“The Cosmos”)
Ronnie Boykins: Bass
Teddy Nance: Trombone
Jimhmi Johnson: Percussion (“Other Worlds” ,”The Cosmos”), Tympani (“The Cosmos”)
Robert Cummings: Bass Clarinet, Wood Blocks
Chris Capers: Trumpet
Bernard Pettaway: Bass Trombone
Danny Davis: Flute, Alto (Ensemble)
Sun Ra: Bass Marimba, Electronic Celeste, Piano, Tympani (“Outer Nothingness”)
RLA Sound Studios, NYC, April 20, 1965
"These seven sides became the first of what many free and avant-garde jazz enthusiasts had heard from Ra. At the heart of his post-bop performances is the flexibility of the support from the Arkestra, whose percussive talents were equal only to their unquestionable abilities on other respective instruments. The probing nature of longer selections such as "Outer Nothingness" and "The Cosmos" contrasts "Of Heavenly Things," providing Ra a chance to steer the combo's intrepid excursions from the all-too-rare perspective of a percussionist. His tympani leads motivate the cut, which is also highlighted by Ronnie Boykins (bass) and John Gilmore (tenor sax). All the more impressive is the consistent level of improvisational skills that each member brings to the ensemble. Jimmy Johnson's (drums) timekeeping ranges from appropriately propulsive and bombastic to a spurious foil for Ra's seemingly maniacal prodding. Indeed, this material solidifies the progression that the bandleader had made from his former tuneful, yet ever intricate big-band type of arrangements. - Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide
"Jazz keyboardist, bandleader, and space cartologist Sun Ra (born Herman Blount) spent most of his career as the consummate outsider. He declared that he was from Saturn (by way of Birmingham, Alabama), lived communally with his ensemble the Arkestra, and was far more interested in cosmic esoterica than what his contemporaries were doing. Ra released most of his several dozen records of the '60s on his own El Saturn imprint (and mostly just sold them at his shows), but the two Heliocentric Worlds albums, both recorded in 1965, appeared on the iconoclastic ESP-Disk label, and propagated his music to a wider audience of listeners who were open to freakiness. Both volumes are improvisations by subgroups of the Arkestra (directed by Ra), and even at their most dissonant, they're playful and spacious — 'Dancing in the Sun' is off-the-cuff big-band swing, and 'The Sun Myth' is a panoramic 18-minute fantasia in which two or three instruments at a time toss long, buzzing tones and high honks back and forth, then fall out of orbit again." - Douglas Wolk, #9 on Spin's "The Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s"
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